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No magic ‘single bullet’ to combat airport security threats

Following recent analysis from Frost & Sullivan, entitled ‘Global Airport Security Technology Market Assessment’, which found that the airport security market earned revenues of $8.22 billion in 2014 and estimated that will reach $12.67 billion by 2023, we reached out to leaders in the sector to find discover their thoughts on the report’s findings.

Paul Baker, MD – Smiths Detection, ME operations, took the time to answer our questions below, outlining the fact that companies providing airport security solutions must be aware that there’s “no magic ‘single bullet'” solution against all threats in this sector.

Paul Baker Smiths Detection

Paul Baker, MD – Smiths Detecion, ME operations.


The Frost and Sullivan report has said that the global airport security market generated $8.22 billion in 2014, and this is expected to rise to $12.67 billion by 2023. What do you think is driving this growth?

There has been a number of contributing factors that significantly drove the growth of the global airport security market. The increase in the number of global air passengers; particularly in the Middle East and Asia-Pacific regions have played a key role in driving investments in airport security infrastructures. Passenger traffic at airports in the larger region has recorded a fast paced growth. As per the findings of a recent IATA report, Dubai Airports, has recently announced growth projections of 126 million passengers by 2020 as the aviation demand continues to soar. In addition, passenger numbers in Qatar are expected to increase at a rate of 4.8% annually until 2034, all in preparedness for the World Cup 2022.

With the exponential increase in passenger traffic, airport operators in the region are now keen on implementing smart checkpoint solutions that are aimed to enhance airports‘ operational efficiences.
However, the key focus for airports is not just on offering a seamless and hassle-free experience for passengers, but to re-define and revolutionize their travel experience.

The key challenge for airport operators is to get this increasing number of passengers through existing checkpoints safely and quickly, without creating an increasing backlog. This is where automated processes can contribute to smoother procedures, improved networking capabilities between different checkpoints and remote screening operations

Incorporating smart solutions at checkpoints will allow operators to gather real-time and historical data for analysis, allowing them to share information, monitor the entire screening operation remotely for earlier intervention. Adapting smart solutions can also facilitate a new approach to checkpoint security, adding fast, passenger friendly and cost efficient processes to the highest levels of security.

Smiths Detection Extra

The same report states that although there is growth there are still budgetary constraints for airports and airlines that cause a challenge. Do you find that this is the case?

There will always be a requirement for security at airports, and therefore, to help support the continuing strain on budgets and resources, we ensure that we offer the most advanced and reliable solutions, to ensure minimum downtime and disruption. Our networked solutions enable airports to process more passengers, whilst improving efficiency and processes to help cope with increasing costs.

The report also implies that the airport security market is reactive, reacting to known threats rather than looking ahead to prevent new threats. Do you agree with this statement? How does Smith Detection look ahead for new threats?

Over the last 10 years, Smiths Detection has invested almost US$450m in R&D, and will continue to do so, to develop advanced technologies and introduce new products to combat known and emerging threats. This investment keeps at the forefront of technological innovation. We introduced the world’s first automatic explosive and liquid detection system (HI-SCAN 6040aTiX) and the first high-speed checked baggage explosives detection system, using multi-view X-ray technology and 3D computed tomography (CT) in a single system (HI-SCAN 10080 XCT).

We understand that airports must adapt to growing passenger numbers and future threats. We cannot predict the future, but by retaining close and collaborative relationships with our customers, regulators and other stakeholders, we always have an open dialogue, and commitment to support future goals and threats to the safety of airport and their passengers.

Smiths Detection Hand Held

What do you consider the biggest threat to airport security?

As airports continue to face the challenge of detecting threats from explosives and weapons they are increasingly also required to find narcotics on passengers or in their luggage, as well as detect and neutralise more serious chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRNE) threats.

There is simply no magic ‘single bullet’ to safeguard society, protect life and support the free flow of trade in global transport. The multi-layered approach to security has emerged as the preferred solution and Smiths Detection has established itself as the principal supplier of detection equipment capable of identifying all these threats.

Smiths Detection offers five key considerations on how it has been supporting the implementation of a layered approach to airport security.

Enhancing Existing Technology: Continued investment in research and development has resulted in technological advances that are able to address evolving threats. For example, major developments in X-ray technology, including an upgrade from single view X-ray inspection to multi-view X-ray systems. The recently introduced TIM (Threat Identification Module for Liquids) is a quick and cost-effective upgrade to allow X-ray systems to meet stringent European legislation for Liquid Explosive Detection (LEDS) Standard 2 Type C. Smiths Detection’s HI-SCAN 6040aTiX multi-view X-ray inspection system captures images from different angles during one screening pass to provide more information in the identification of threats, such as hidden explosives. This simultaneously helps maintain the screening speed, especially beneficial during high-peak travel periods.

Balancing Security and Speed: Time is valuable – not only for security personnel during critical decision-making – but also for every traveller. Effective screening technology needs to identify any threats while moving people quickly through security. One initiative involves alternate viewing stations, with keyboards and monitors stationed away from baggage X-ray machines. Suspicious bags are shifted away, along with the original scanned images, to an alternate station to conduct a thorough secondary analysis, while keeping the security line moving.

Economising Space and Energy: Advances in detection by Smiths Detection have also led to systems with a smaller space footprint and energy requirement. A focus on these attributes in purchases can significantly reduce total upgrade costs over the life of the technology. For example, Smiths Detections’ HI-SCAN 6040-2is is an advanced dual-view X-ray inspection system for automatic explosive detection at checkpoints where bags and personal belongings are screened to protect society. Its compact footprint means the HI-SCAN 6040-2is can be installed in areas with restricted space, providing operators with various options to meet their configuration requirements to ensure reliable, efficient throughput of hand luggage.

Considering Total Costs: While the initial price of new technology can be high, operators can save money by using core technology which can be upgraded to address new and emerging threats. For example, a ‘platform-based’ system allows the integration of replacement control systems and technologies at a fraction of their initial total cost. This is preferable to replacing the entire system, which involves logistical support, to meet changing regulatory standards. This can also add several years to the life of the system.

Managing Technology Investments and Personnel Costs: Highly-effective and accurate threat detectors and identifiers can make a valuable contribution to the goal of efficient and cost-effective manpower. Smiths Detection continues to demonstrate how advanced technologies can provide practical solutions to airport security at reasonable costs, to fight evolving threats. This helps airport operators to extract maximum value for their investment, while providing the most advanced level of security required for passenger and cargo screening.

Smiths Detection Ionscan

What sort of products do you provide airports and what do you find are the most popular?
The following Smiths Detection solutions have been adopted at several locations with our customers globally and are helping airports and other critical security establishments with identifying and detecting threat.


  • Checkpoint.Evo connects individual sensors to create a fully networked checkpoint solution system to provide real-time data collection, distribution and management that improves both the inspection process and operational efficiency.
  • Its centralised remote screening helps speed up inspection of hand luggage, by allowing image evaluation and alarm resolution from X-ray scanners to be centrally monitored away from the noise and distractions of the checkpoint.
  • In addition, advanced recheck functions electronically mark suspicious areas in bags to enable a more focused search for illegal items by on-the-spot operators, resulting in faster throughput and reduced queuing times.
  • Checkpoint.Evo’s data management capabilities offer real-time and historical data for analysis and reporting which allows airport operators to share information, monitor the entire screening operation, the network and the asset health remotely, portable devices, such as tablet PCs.


  • The IONSCAN 600’s small, portable design, combined with its ease-of-use reduces the cost and time of screening for a range of high-threat explosives.
  • The technology behind the IONSCAN 600 easily surpasses that of its previous version, the industry-leading IONSCAN 500DT used widely around the world — from airport checkpoints to mail screening.
  • Its breakthrough feature is a proprietary non-radioactive Ion Mobility Spectrometry (IMS) source which eliminates the need for special licensing, handling or disposal requirements.
  • IONSCAN 600 is designed specifically to meet the growing security demands of the global aviation and infrastructure sectors.

Smiths Detection Sabre 5000

Other technologies and solutions:

  • The HI-SCAN 10080 XCT is a next generation high-speed checked baggage explosives detection system (EDS). It is faster, takes up less space and its dual imaging expedites throughput. It combines a dual-energy X-ray line scanner with full 3D volumetric Computed Tomography (CT) imaging and reconstruction. Belt speed: 0.5m/sec (98.5ft/min); tunnel size: 1070 x 810mm (42.1 x 31.9in). The product is EU/ECAC EDS Standard 3 approved and laboratory certified for high-speed checked baggage screening by the United States Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
  • The CIP-300 is a low-energy X-ray system that can reveal hidden explosives, drugs, stowaways and contraband in cars, vans and smaller trucks while drivers and passengers can remain in the vehicle.
  • The RadSeeker is a handheld, rugged and highly accurate radioisotope detector and identifier that was specifically designed to meet the U.S Departments of Homeland Security mission requirements. Furthermore, the Multi-Mode threat detector, another hand held innovation that is capable of identifying explosives, narcotics, toxic industrial chemicals and chemical warfare agents.
  • The Sabre 5000 utilises our Ion Mobility Spectrometry (IMS) technology to detect and identify over 40 threat substances in approximately 20 seconds. These include threats such as common peroxide-based, volatile and unstable chemicals often used to construct IED and ammonium nitrate commonly used in home-made explosives.
  • At Smiths Detection, we have introduced ‘eqo’, an innovative solution for people screening. Using its unique flat-panel millimetre-wave technology to detect concealed threat objects, this people screening system operates within a minimal footprint. This automated detection provides full privacy for the person being screened with a generic graphical representation of the person being presented to the operator.
  • The system software indicates concealed objects with a marker on the appropriate part of the graphical display. Eqo can be easily integrated into any current checkpoint configuration. The open plan design offers a positive user experience and facilitates ease of communication between the operator and person being screened. Most of the solutions that we develop are easily compatible with existing software used for screening and detecting potential threats. For example, some of our software solutions enable remote screening operations and provide networking capabilities between different airport check-points. We are constantly looking for ways to combine our software solutions with our existing products in order to improve passenger experience.



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